Notes: TV technology has attention of USGA, R&A

By Doug FergusonSeptember 18, 2013, 12:28 am

ATLANTA – Television evidence indicated a possible rules violation. The official talked to the player before he signed his card, and the player was adamant that no violation occurred.

The decision went in favor of the player because the evidence was deemed inconclusive.

This was not Tiger Woods at the BMW Championship.

This was Colin Montgomerie in the Volvo Masters at Valderrama in 2002. Video appeared to show Montgomerie's putter touch the ball before it had stopped rolling after he missed a 5-foot putt on the 10th hole.

He wasn't penalized, and wound up sharing the title with Bernhard Langer when the playoff couldn't continue in darkness.

Why no penalty?

''We went through this involved question-and-answer,'' European Tour chief referee John Paramor said Tuesday. ''He said, 'I did not touch this ball.' We had no other evidence apart from these two-dimensional TV picture. If it had been shot from another angle, maybe it could have been proved.''

Golf and television have come a long way.

Woods was penalized two shots in the BMW Championship despite arguing that his ball only oscillated as he tried to remove a branch in front of it. The video that showed otherwise was taken in high-definition, clear enough to see every dimple.

And this might be golf's next frontier, at least when it comes to the rules.

''Our Rules of Golf committees - the USGA and R&A - are always trying to look forward at what they should address,'' said Thomas Pagel, the USGA's senior director of rules and competition. ''Certainly, HDTV has been on the forefront for the last several years.''

Pagel pointed to April 2011 and Decision 33-7/4.5 as ''the beginning of the review of HDTV and what impact it has.''

The faces on those decisions were Padraig Harrington and Peter Hanson. Harrington was disqualified for an incorrect score when HDTV revealed his ball moved when he was removing his marker on the green. Hanson's violation was a double-hit.

In both cases, the infraction was revealed only through the use of high-def - in Hanson's case, it was played in super-slow motion.

The next edition of the Decisions of Golf is due in January 2014.

''As we continue to have these issues, it's certainly something to consider,'' Pagel said. ''But I don't want to get ahead of myself.''

Regarding the players who get far more TV coverage than anyone else, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said there was no easy answer.

''We have a lot more cameras on the players who are in contention Sunday,'' he said. ''You've got 70-something players on Sunday. Seven or eight or 10 of them can win the golf tournaments; 85, 90, 95 percent of the camera time is on those seven or eight players.''

Finchem doesn't have strong feelings about TV viewers calling in violations. He referred to it as ''cumbersome and difficult and awkward'' at times, yet interesting to the fans. He said the tour would take a look at prohibiting viewers calling in, though it is not believed to be a high priority.


PAYNE STEWART AWARD: Peter Jacobsen is this year's recipient of the Payne Stewart Award, given each year to a player who personifies some of Stewart's traits - integrity, sportsmanship, presentation and charity.

The award began the year after Stewart perished in a freak plane accident in 1999, the year he won the U.S. Open.

''He was an amazing guy,'' Jacobsen said. ''A lot of you knew Payne, knew what he stood for. He was a dynamic personality, somebody who was as intense competitor as there is in the history of the game, but also somebody who knew how to have fun.''

And not just on the golf course.

Stewart played the harmonica in ''Jack Trout and the Flounders,'' the band of PGA Tour players that Jacobsen organized.

''Huey Lewis, who's a great harmonica player, said Payne was about an 8 handicap on the harmonica, which is pretty good. Because he (Lewis) was about a 15-handicap golfer. So it's a fair trade.''


THE FINALS: Ryo Ishikawa has received three special invitations to play in the Masters. He was awarded an exemption for the PGA Championship last month, even though he had fallen to No. 158 in the world ranking.

But getting a PGA Tour card? This time, the 22-year-old from Japan earned it.

Ishikawa had a 69-68 weekend at the third Web.com Finals event in Ohio. A week earlier, he shot 66 in the final round and finished fifth in North Carolina. Those results have assured him earning back his PGA Tour card for next year.

The Web.com Tour Championship at Sawgrass next week (Valley Course) is the final event of the four-tournament series.

The top 25 players from the Web.com Tour money list already have their cards and are playing for a priority ranking. The other 25 are based on the money list from the four tournaments. Ishikawa is sixth on that list, making him a mathematical lock.

Everyone down to Hudson Swofford can't fall out in the race for the open 25 cards. Heath Slocum and Sean O'Hair are close.

The replacement for Q-school seems to be working well for its first year. One of the curiosities about this Web.com Tour Finals was whether it would favor the players from Nos. 126-200 in the FedEx Cup or the players from Nos. 26 to 75 on the Web.com money list.

Going into the last event, the PGA Tour players have a 15-10 lead in the race for those 25 open cards.

Steve Wheatcroft is holding down the 25th spot, just $1,583 ahead of Bhavik Patel of the Web.com Tour. Among those PGA Tour players in jeopardy of not getting a card are three former Ryder Cup players - Robert Karlsson ($12,955 out of the 25th spot), Chad Campbell ($20,755 behind) and Chris DiMarco ($20,950 behind).


SHINNECOCK SCOTT: Adam Scott had a record-setting score last week, just not at the BMW Championship.

On his way to Chicago, the Masters champion played a casual round at Shinnecock Hills and wound up setting the course record with a 63. Scott played the red tees, which are the tips on the Long Island course. He made a 12-foot putt on the last hole to beat by one the record set by Raymond Floyd during a recreational round in 1996.

''It's pretty cool,'' Scott said. ''The members got pretty excited when I came off the course, and it's one of the best tracks in the world, for sure. No one has ever shot that score in over 100 years off the tees I played. So that's a pretty neat thing.''

Shinnecock Hills is one of the five founding clubs of the U.S. Golf Association. Scott had rounds of 75-75 to miss the cut when the U.S. Open was held there in 2004. It returns to Shinnecock in 2018.

''It was a really fun day, and I felt a little sense of achievement, absolutely - especially beating Raymond Floyd,'' he said. ''It's added to a really good year.''


DIVOTS: Steve Stricker says his practice amounts to playing golf during the summer in Wisconsin. In the winter? That's a different story. ''I enjoy practicing because it's all I can do,'' he said. ... Mike Scanlan is leaving the LPGA Tour as its media director to become communications director for IMG in North America. ... The AT&T National began in 2007 as a new tournament built around the Fourth of July in the nation's capital. That's no longer the case. The tournament hosted by Tiger Woods now has moved earlier, and that Fourth of July date now belongs to The Greenbrier Classic. ... Dating to the Canadian Woman's Open last year, 16-year-old amateur Lydia Ko would have earned just short of $1.2 million. ... Five players from PGA Tour Canada have earned Web.com Tour cards for next season - Mackenzie Hughes, Riley Wheeldon, Mark Hubbard, Hugo Leon and Wil Collins.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Nick Watney (63) started the FedEx Cup playoffs with the worst seed of the 30 players who made it to East Lake for the Tour Championship. Harris English (19) had the best seed of players who did not make it.


FINAL WORD: ''It's been a college degree and a Masters' degree. I've learned more than any other year.'' - Jordan Spieth, on his rookie season on the PGA Tour.

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Kisner (66) leads Open by 1, Woods 5 back

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 7:44 pm

The course was playing firm and the winds never truly gusted, but it was still quite a mixed bag for some of the world's best during the first round of The Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things stand as Kevin Kisner moved into the lead in search of his first career major:

Leaderboard: Kevin Kisner (-5), Erik Van Rooyen (-4), Tony FInau (-4), Zander Lombard (-4), Brandon Stone (-3), Brendan Steele (-3), Ryan Moore (-3)

What it means: Van Rooyen took the early lead in one of the first groups of the morning, and he remained near the top despite a bogey on the final hole. But that left a small opening for Kisner to eke past him, as the American put together a round with as many bogeys as eagles (one apiece). Already with two wins on the PGA Tour and having challenged at the PGA Championship in August, Kisner tops a crowded leaderboard despite never finishing better than T-54 in three prior Open appearances.

Round of the day: Kisner started slowly, as a bogey on No. 5 dropped him to 1 over on the round. But that proved to be his lone dropped shot of the day, and he quickly rebounded with an eagle on the par-5 sixth. Kisner added four birdies over his final 11 holes, including three in a row from Nos. 13-15, and successfully navigated the difficult closing stretch to post the only 66 of the day on the par-71 layout.

Best of the rest: Van Rooyen held a four-shot lead heading into the final round of the Irish Open two weeks ago, but he fell apart at Ballyliffin as Russell Knox rallied for victory. He's off to another surprisingly strong start after a 4-under 67 that included only one bogey on No. 18. Van Rooyen has never won on the European Tour, let alone contend in a major, but he's now in the thick of it after five birdies over his first 15 holes.

Biggest disappointment: Two major champs were among the short list of pre-tournament contenders, but both Patrick Reed (+4) and Dustin Johnson (+5) appear to already be out of the mix. Reed has finished T-4 or better each of the last three majors but made only one birdie in his opener, while Johnson was the consensus betting favorite but played his last three holes in 4 over including a triple bogey on No. 18.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Kisner is no stranger to the top of the standings, but keep an eye on the chase pack a few shots back. The group at 2 under includes Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm, while Tiger Woods is just five shots off the pace after an even-par 71 that featured three birdies and three bogeys as Woods made his return to The Open for the first time since missing the cut at St. Andrews in 2015.

Shot of the day: Stone put his head on his hands after pulling his approach from the rough on No. 18, but his prayers were answered when his ball rattled off a fence, bounced back in bounds and rolled to the front of the green. One week after winning the Scottish Open with a final-round 60, Stone turned a likely double into a par to close out his 68.

Quote of the day: "I've been taped up and bandaged up, just that you were able to see this one. It's no big deal." - Woods, who had KT tape visible on both sides of his neck after a bad night of sleep.

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Rory 'convinced' driver is the play at burnt Carnoustie

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 6:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – There are two distinct schools of thought at this week’s Open Championship - that Carnoustie is either best played with a velvet touch and a measured hand off the tee, or that it makes sense to choose the hammer and hit driver whenever and wherever possible.

Count Rory McIlroy in the latter camp.

Although the Northern Irishman’s opening 2-under 69 may not be a definitive endorsement of the bomb-and-gouge approach, he was pleased with his Day 1 results and even more committed to the concept.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I’m convinced that that's the way that I should play it,” said McIlroy, who hit just 4 of 15 fairways but sits tied for eighth. “It's not going to be for everyone, but it worked out pretty well for me and I would have taken 69 to start the day.”

From the moment McIlroy’s caddie, Harry Diamond, made a scouting trip to Carnoustie a few weeks ago, the 2014 Open champion committed himself to an aggressive gameplan, and there was nothing on Thursday that persuaded him to change.

The true test came early on Thursday, with McIlroy sending his tee shot over the green at the 350-yard, par-4 third and scrambling for birdie.

“That hole was a validation for me. It proved to me it’s the right way for me to play here. It was a little personal victory,” said McIlroy, who played his opening loop even but birdied Nos. 12 and 14 to move under par.

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Report: USGA, R&A to 'severely restrict' green books

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 6:42 pm

The detailed yardage books that many players rely on to help read greens at various tournaments could soon become a thing of the past.

According to a Golfweek report, the USGA and R&A are poised to "severely restrict" the information offered to players in green-reading books, which currently include detailed visuals and specifics about the location and severity of slopes and contours on each putting surface. The change is expected to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

Green-reading books have come under scrutiny in recent years as their use has increased, seen as both an enemy of pace of play and a tool that can take the skill out of reading the break on putts.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


"We believe that the ability to read greens is an integral part of the skill of putting and remain concerned about the rapid development of increasingly detailed materials that players are using to help with reading greens during a round," the R&A said in a statement. The USGA also reportedly issued a statement that they plan to update their review process on the books "in the coming weeks."

Speaking to reporters after an opening-round 72 at The Open, Jordan Spieth seemingly implied that the rule change was all but official.

"I don't think we're allowed to use them starting next year, is that right?" Spieth said. "Which I think will be much better for me. I think that's a skill that I have in green reading that's advantageous versus the field, and so it will be nice. But when it's there, certain putts, I certainly was using it and listening to it."

According to the report, new language in the Rules of Golf is expected to address the presentation of the books and "end the current level of detail."

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'Super 7' living – and loving – frat life in Carnoustie

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 6:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It’s not exactly “Animal House Scotland,” but it’s as close as the gentleman’s game allows itself to drift toward that raucous line.

For the third consecutive year, some of golf’s biggest and brightest chose to set up shop on the same corner of the Angus coast, a testosterone-fueled riff session where feelings are never spared and thick skin is mandatory.

Among the eclectic “Super 7” who are sharing two houses in Carnoustie this week are defending champion Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker and Kevin Kisner – a group that ranges in age from 24 (Spieth) to 42 years old (Johnson).

The tradition, or maybe “guy’s week” is a better description, began in 2016 at Royal Troon when Spieth, Fowler, Thomas, Walker, Johnson and Dufner all roomed together. Kisner was added to the mix this year and instead of baseball – the distraction of choice in ’16 – the group has gone native with nightly soccer matches. Actually, the proceedings more resemble penalty kicks, but they seem to be no less entertaining.

“I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

For the record, his flat mates will attest to Dufner’s abilities as a goalie, although asked about his chances to make the U.S. national team Thomas was reluctant to go that far.

“As a U.S. citizen, I hope he does not make our team, but he's a pretty good backyard goalie,” Thomas said.



The arrangement comes with a litany of benefits, from the camaraderie to the improved logistics of having so many VIPs under the same roof.

“Honestly, it just makes everything really, really easy because there's a lot of cars going to and from the golf course. They know our address. We have food essentially at our beck and call. And we have friends. I mean, we have some women [wives] in there to keep the frat house somewhat in order,” Johnson said. “But I mean, every individual there is great. It's fun.”

But this goes well beyond some random male bonding for what at the moment represents nearly one-third of the U.S. Ryder Cup team. This is a snapshot into a curious side of golf that’s as rare as it is misunderstood.

Unlike team sports, golf is a lonely pursuit. A player can collect as many swing coaches, sports psychologists and handlers around them as they wish, but there’s a connection between athletes at this level that creates a unique flow of ideas that’s normally only present during the annual team events, be it a Ryder or Presidents cup.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


At this level, players talk a language only they understand that’s littered with the kind of insider give-and-take one would expect from PGA Tour winners and major champions. Between the two houses, which are adjacent to each other, there are eight major victories.

“I have zero, so I don't know how many they have,” Kisner joked when asked about his accomplished roommates.

Kisner is southern like sweat and sweet tea and can trade good-natured jabs with the best of them, but given the pedigrees assembled between the two houses he seems to understand the importance of listening.

“Everybody is just really chill, and it's a lot of fun to be around those guys. There's a lot of great players. It's really cool just to hear what they have to say,” Kisner said. “Everybody's sitting around at night scratching their head on what club to hit off of every tee.”

It’s worth pointing out that The Open winner has come from this group twice in the last three years, including 2017 champion Spieth, who took no small measure of inspiration from Johnson’s victory at St. Andrews in ’15.

Nor is it probably a coincidence that four of those players now find themselves firmly in the mix and all within the top 20 at Carnoustie, including Kisner who will have bragging rights on Thursday night following a first-round 66 that vaulted him into the lead.

“I probably get to eat first,” he smiled.



In their primes, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player would occasionally share a house, they even vacationed together from time to time – you know, SB1K68 – but the practice fell out of favor for a few generations. It’s hard to imagine Greg Norman enjoying a friendly kick-about with any of his contemporaries and even harder to think that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson could share a cab ride, let alone a house for a week.

Some say this type of fellowship is the product of a new generation who grew up playing junior golf against each other and logically took their bond to the big leagues, but that ignores the 40-somethings (Johnson and Dufner) in the frat.

Maybe it’s a byproduct of America’s Ryder Cup rebuilding efforts or an affinity for non-stop one-liners and bad soccer. Or maybe it’s a genuine appreciation for what each of the “7” have to offer.

“[Kisner] is good friends with all those guys, he likes to cut up and have a good time and talk trash. It’s a good little group,” said Kisner’s swing coach John Tillery. “This last year or two and the Presidents Cup and being on the teams with those guys has just escalated that.”

Some seem to think these friendships run a little too deep. That sharing a bachelor pad and dinner for the week somehow erodes a player’s competitiveness. But if the “Super 7” have proven anything, other than American golfers probably aren’t the best soccer players, it’s that familiarity can be fun.